Should teachers stop fighting for tenure?

Thursday, June 5, 2014

One of the most contested points of teacher contracts is the issue of tenure. Hardline education reformers argue that tenure protects underperforming teachers, which ends up punishing the students. Teachers unions challenge (among other reasons) that with the ever-changing landscape of K-12 education, including evaluation systems, tenure is necessary to protect the jobs of excellent teachers who could otherwise be ousted unfairly. It can often be a sticking point - and one that can lead to costly time out of classrooms, as recently seen in large school systems like New York City and Chicago.

For its part, tenure for teachers has done a lot to elevate job protection in other industries too. The fights that teachers wage when it comes to fairness in the workplace have had a positive impact on workers' rights and treatment outside classrooms and off school grounds. Tenure, as a piece of the larger teacher contract puzzle, has been an important stand in the history of the education industry. Based on the contemporary K-12 landscape, however, it seems that the fight for tenure could be becoming an irrelevant one.

As such, I wonder if for the sake of really reforming K-12 learning, teachers should stop fighting the tenure battle?

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